Executive View: A parking ban on big SUVs in cities? Just political excuses.

Staff
By Staff
4 Min Read

Genuine environment protecting measures are welcome but politicians should be honest when their new policies are really designed to mitigate for lack of planning and investment, argues AM’s regular columnist Professor Jim Saker, emeritus professor of Loughborough University’s business school and president of the Institute of the Motor Industry.

I know that virtue signalling is a thing but the most blatant example that I have come across recently is Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, claiming that her new parking regime in the city is an environmental breakthrough, and that other cities should follow.

I totally back strong measures to halt the process of climate change but find some claims to be slightly farcical.

Parisiens voted to triple the cost of parking large SUVs in Paris. Now when I say that “Parisiens voted”, in fact 5.7% of the eligible population turned out and they got a majority of just over 54% of those who bothered to vote.

The argument runs that big SUVs are too large for the city streets, cause congestion and present both a parking hazard and are poor for the environment.

Punative charges will apply to ICE/hybrids that weigh over 1.6 metric tons while battery electric vehicles get the penalty fee if they weigh more than 2.0 metric tons. All of this seems totally logical, until you start to look at the exemptions which include:

One is left wondering who is left? It would appear to be day trippers and tourists who have come into the city, one assumes, to spend money at the many attractions.

There is a further irony that when you look at the weights it appears that most of the French SUVs made by Citroen, Peugeot and Renault fall below the weight limit, while the heavier German-brand products are above it. This is obviously a fairly astute move by the Mayor not to antagonise the French car industry.

The weight limits imposed do recognise that fact that EVs are heavier, but the 2.0 metric ton limit means that cars like the Tesla Model X fall into the higher penalty bracket and will be surcharged.

What the key driver for is this move? Is it the environment or is it parking?

On one hand larger electric cars are penalised while lighter non–EVs are permitted, suggesting that it is parking and not the environment that is the priority. Also, when one looks at the some of the car ranges, the bottom end of the same model falls below the penalty weight while the top end of the same range pushes the same sized vehicle into the higher parking fees.

So, if the same sized car can be in different categories how does this improve parking?

The outcome is that a 6-hour parking stay in a heavier EV will cost £192, exactly the same as a large diesel-powered SUV.

Barely a claim that the scheme is a climate change breakthrough!

Paris does not have a congestion charge, but since 2017 the Crit’Air sticker policy has applied, this is clearly an environmental policy of registering cars by their level of emissions. Surely implementing something based around that addresses the climate change agenda. The parking surcharging looks more like an excuse for not having a proper parking infrastructure in a city where there are narrow streets. Something the Mayor could do something about.

Author: Professor Jim Saker

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